Sunday, March 17, 2013

Before Long: Fins' free agent tackle could return


Before free agency started, it was considered a foregone conclusion that tackle Jake Long would be moving on from the Miami Dolphins.

After all, his play had declined considerably over the past two seasons while he battled injuries, and Long would be seeking top free agent money this offseason -- the type of money the Dolphins did not want to spend on an injury prone left tackle. (photo: June Rivera, Flickr)

But after he was set free to assess what his open market value actually was, the four-time Pro Bowler may now have a road back to Miami.

Long reportedly spent most of the week on an extended visit with the St. Louis Rams, undergoing a physical and negotiating terms of a potential deal. After leaving without signing, Long is back home in South Florida, mulling the offer.

And now it appears that Miami is solidly in the running to re-sign Long, after it was reported by Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post that the All-Pro tackle was present at the Dolphins' facility on Saturday. It has been known that Long, all things equal, preferred to stay with the team that drafted him but wanted to maximize his value with his next deal.

But after finding out that his market isn't as strong as he hoped, there is now a legitimate chance that Long reunites with his teammates. (Teammates that, it turns out, really, really want him to come back.)

According to's Jeff Darlington, the deal that St. Louis put on the table is very similar to what Miami is willing to offer, which makes it possible and almost likely that Long will return to the Dolphins.

When Long finally signs, it will have the added effect of loosening up a league-wide logjam in the tackle market, and help set the price that other free agent lineman will command. That will directly impact where and when New England Patriots' free agent tackle Sebastian Vollmer lands with a team.

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